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Indian Wells: Venus Williams loses on return to action as Naomi Osaka progresses to second round

Venus Williams defeated 2-6 6-3 6-0 by Nao Hibino, losing the final 10 games in the match; Naomi Osaka overcomes Sara Errani 6-3 6-1; watch Indian Wells live on Sky Sports, plus over 80 tournaments a year, including the US Open, exclusively live on Sky Sports Tennis

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Highlights of Nao Hibino's first-round match against Venus Williams in Indian Wells

Venus Williams lost her first match back on tour for six months as the 43-year-old faded badly to succumb 2-6 6-3 6-0 to qualifier Nao Hibino in the first round at Indian Wells.

Williams hadn't competed anywhere since a first-round exit at the US Open on August 29, while her last appearance at the BNP Paribas Open came in 2019.

The former world No 1, now outside the top 450, started impressively, taking the opening set 6-2 but she'd lose the final 10 games in the match, being broken in seven out of her last 12 service games.

Despite the defeat, the seven-time Grand Slam winner left the court with a smile and a wave as much of the Indian Wells crowd stood to applaud.

The 80th-ranked Hibino, who came into this match with a 0-3 career record at Indian Wells, will meet No 17 seed Veronika Kudermetova in the second round.

Four-time Grand Slam title winner Naomi Osaka had a strong outing in her tournament opener on Thursday, defeating Italian qualifier Sara Errani 6-3 6-1 to reach the second round.

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Highlights of Naomi Osaka's first-round match against Sara Errani in Indian Wells

Osaka, the 2018 champion at Indian Wells, improved her match record to 4-4 since her comeback from maternity leave after the birth of her daughter Shai last July.

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Errani led 3-2 in the first set and, serving, was within a point of going up 4-2, but Osaka would lose only one more game the entire rest of the match after breaking to level things up at 3-3.

The Japanese star saved two break points on her next service game for a crucial hold, before again breaking Errani for a 5-3 advantage as she closed out the first set and then breezed through the second.

Next up for Osaka is No 15 seed Liudmila Samsonova in the second round on Saturday.

Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, like Williams and Osaka, a former world No 1, beat China's Zhu Lin 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 to advance to the second round.

Caroline Wozniacki (Getty Images)
Image: Former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki is through to the second round at Indian Wells

The Dane returned to the tour last year after stepping away from the sport in 2020 to start a family. The tournament's 2011 champion will next take on Croatian Donna Vekic, who is seeded 25th.

Other winners in the women's draw on Thursday included the Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova and Katerina Siniakova, France's Clara Burel, Italy's Lucia Bronzetti, Russia's Anna Blinkova and China's Xinyu Wang.

The United States' Danielle Collins completed a 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (8-6) win over Russia's Erika Andreeva, setting up a clash in the next round with world No 1 Iga Swiatek, who edged her out in three sets at the Australian Open in January.

Murray back in action on Friday

Andy Murray, who produced an accomplished display to beat David Goffin in straight sets last time out now takes on fifth seed Andrey Rublev on Friday in a real test from 9pm UK time, live on Sky Sports Tennis.

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Andy Murray breaks down his win over David Goffin in the first round at Indian Wells and looks ahead to his next match against Andrey Rublev

British men's No 1 and 2021 champion here, Cameron Norrie, will start his tournament on Saturday against Lorenzo Sonego after receiving a bye through to the second round due to being seeded No 28.

World No 1 Swiatek and defending champions Carlos Alcaraz and Elena Rybakina also take to the court in 'Tennis Paradise' on Friday, as does Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner.

Friday's order of play at Indian Wells

The only remaining Brit in the women's draw, Emma Raducanu, moved into the second round with victory in straight sets over Rebeka Masarova on Thursday.

The 21-year-old, given a wild card at this tournament, set up a meeting with Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska as she got past Spanish qualifier Masarova 6-2 6-3.

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Highlights of Emma Raducanu's first round match against Rebeka Masarova in Indian Wells

Looking ahead to Raducanu's match with Yastremska on Saturday, Sky Sports' Laura Robson said: "There's going to be some heavy hitting. It's going to be a match where you're not going to get much rhythm from Yastremska because it's going to be a winner or an error.

"I think in some ways you know what you're going to get but if you're overthink a few of your shots then you're going to get exposed. It's going to be a fun one."

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